Lackey’s Salmon Policy Paper II: A Science Excerpt


Considering that blog readers might not want to read all of Lackey’s paper, that I posted in the previous post here, I am posting another couple of excerpts.

The billions spent on salmon recovery might be considered “guilt money” — modern-day indulgences — a tax society and individuals willingly bear to alleviate their collective and individual remorse. It is money spent on activities not likely to achieve recovery of wild salmon, but it helps people feel better as they continue the behaviors and choices that preclude the recovery of wild salmon.


Salmon Policy Lesson 2 — Fisheries scientists, managers, and analysts are systemically encouraged to avoid explicitly conveying unpleasant facts or trade-offs to the public, senior bureaucrats, or elected officials.

…Such a message to “lighten up” is also reflected in the comments of some colleagues in reviewing salmon recovery manuscripts. For example, a common sentiment is captured by one reviewer’s comment on a manuscript: “You have to give those of us trying to restore wild salmon some hope of success.”
In contrast, some colleagues, especially veterans of the unending political conflict over salmon policy, confessed their regret over the “optimistic” approach that they had taken during their careers in fisheries, and they now endorse the “tell it like it is” tactic. They felt that they had given false hope about the effectiveness of fishways, hatcheries, and the ability of their agencies to manage mixed stock fishing. Many professional fisheries scientists have been pressured by employers, funding organizations, and colleagues to “spin” fisheries science and policy realism to accentuate optimism. Sometimes the pressure on scientists to cheerlead is blunt; other times it is subtle. For example, consider the coercion of scientists by other scientists (often through nongovernmental professional societies) to avoid highlighting the importance of U.S. population policy on sustaining natural resources (Hurlbert 2013). The existence of such institutional and organizational pressure is rarely discussed except among trusted colleagues; nevertheless it is real.

Other colleagues took professional refuge in the reality that senior managers or policy bureaucrats select and define the policy or science question to be addressed, thus constraining research. Consequently, the resulting scientific information and assessments are often scientifically rigorous, but so narrowly focused that the information is only marginally relevant to decision makers. Rarely are fisheries scientists encouraged to provide “big picture” assessments of the future of salmon. Whether inadvertent or not, such constrained
information often misleads the public into endorsing false expectations of the likelihood of the recovery of wild salmon (Lackey 2001a, Hurlbert 2011).

If there are 50 things you could do, and not-logging is one of them (like not-farming, not-developing, not-fishing, not-damming, etc.), wouldn’t we want to know 1) how effective each intervention would be and 2) and who specifically would win and lose under each scenario, so that appropriate policy remedies for their pain might be considered? (Of course, scientists wouldn’t agree…) Otherwise we might target the most politically easy (say logging on public lands…), cause difficulties to communities that we don’t openly examine,
and never really fix the problem.

38 thoughts on “Lackey’s Salmon Policy Paper II: A Science Excerpt”

  1. PROBLEM? What problem? What would be the common agreement of a salmon problem?
    From the viewpoint of people who fish for a living?
    From the viewpoint of people who sell electricity from hydro plants?
    From the viewpoint of farmers who use water from the reservoirs?
    From the viewpoint of politicians who must get votes from every sector?
    More importantly, from the viewpoint of politicians who must “look good” in the public eye?
    From the viewpoint of people who make a living by exposing the evils done by the opposition?
    From the viewpoint of the opposition, whoever that might be?
    For some salmon (or lack of) isn’t a problem. Lack of salmon is an opportunity to look good without really doing much except look good.

  2. One thing that is clear, the aforementioned activities have certainly done the job of killing this amazing resource. So the question is, do we just go about our business and finish the job or do we get serious and fix the wrongs. The tone of this rant seems to say that economy, jobs and development trump all other issues, let the chips fall.

      • I’m sorry, poor choice of terms. It seems to me that the common theme among “recitals” such as this is: regardless of the consequences, we have to press on with logging and development because people need jobs and housing and the economy needs to grow. There are good efforts to mitigate the damage, however we are focused as a society on continuing the same course, expecting different results. Too little emphasis is given to alternatives. For example, the only type of house the federal government will insure a mortgage for is a traditional frame built home. There are many ideas involving hay bales, earthen homes, recycled materials, solar and wind energy, etc. that can be developed with the idea of taking the pressure off the activities that are causing problems. (such as the elimination of salmon runs) Naturally, even these ideas have an impact but given the right mindset, may have a lesser impact than the conventional mode of “cut that forest, dam that river and burn that coal”. And, a focus on the alternatives may lessen the pressure on conventional industries to produce at all costs…if we can stop being so stubborn about staying the course.

        • I agree that other approaches can and should be used.. but forest industry isn’t producing “at all costs”: don’t you think FSC standards are sufficiently environmentally sensitive? (not to get into the previous FSC/SFI discussion right now).

          And how can we increase our population without some kind of “development”?

          Anyway, this discussion reminds me of the book Ecotopia… and I can’t remember that view of population and local production, but maybe someone else does…

          • Anyway, this discussion reminds me of the book Ecotopia… and I can’t remember that view of population and local production, but maybe someone else does…

            All I remember of Ecotopia are the hospital nursing practices. The author, Ernest Callenbach, passed away in 2012. Callenbach’s former college roommate was Matt Meselson, my dad’s collaborator in biology’s “most beautiful experiment.”

            • Andy: Those are some pretty impressive genes — and, thanks in part to your Dad, we now know a lot more about them! All I remember about Ecotopia is that I read it and was disappointed. I can’t remember why, exactly, but I think it had something to do with character development.

  3. Fairly well written overall, although too bad he feels compelled to keep citing Stuart Hurlbert to argue how much “population growth” (read: immigrants) are to blame for salmon decline (e.g., “For example, consider the coercion of scientists by other scientists (often through nongovernmental professional societies) to avoid highlighting the importance of U.S. population policy on sustaining natural resources (Hurlbert 2013). As a scientist, I don’t feel coerced into not sharing Hurlbert et al’s views, rather it’s that they’re wrongheaded. A little more info on that guy here: Let’s see, here in North Idaho salmon runs are dwindling precipitously, let’s blame our population growth from all those darned immigrants from Mexico or Connecticut or somewhere, “the problem that nobody dares to discuss”.. wait a minute, we don’t actually have very many immigrants here, or all that much population growth for that matter… he must mean elsewhere. Oh well…

    • Guy.. I don’t get it.. don’t more people lead to more houses and the need for more wood and agricultural products? all of which have environmental impacts? Not sure what you’re saying..

      It seems to me to be quite a leap from “is population growth good for the environment?” to “let’s not let folks move to Oregon from California, or further south… or further west or east.”

      If we are going to have population growth, I think that’s fine. But don’t we need to look at the impacts? Conceivably natural resources for them have to come from somewhere. What am I missing? Also, if we get many more people in an area, their recreation sites will get crowded and will need to be expanded.. either way, environmental impacts.

      PS I have seen a great deal of population growth in Oregon since I worked in Oregon in 1971..that’s one of the reasons they have zoning there. Don’t Idaho salmon have to come through populated and farm areas of Oregon and Washington to get to Idaho?

      • Sharon, it’s research, as a means to get it. For me, it works kind of like this: I see that Mr. Lackey cites Stuart Hurlbert often (5 times) as an apparently important source of his population policy arguments. So, I look up Mr. Hurlbert on the interwebs, he’s all over the place including (unfairly or not, but most of us aren’t…) on more than one hate watch list (e.g., Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center), as a significant force in the anti-immigrant Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) (e.g.,, or, as well as the San Diego Minutemen (whose internal emails allegedly refer to immigrants as “cockroaches” and “third-world animals”… maybe there’s the ecology connection? sorry, sarcasm…) ( You can hear Mr. Hurlbert himself lecture on why “Mexico is our enemy” here, if interested: It goes on and on, but anyway, next step for me is to ask: If Mr. Lackey considers this a good source for his population policy arguments, and then he whines that scientists are being “coerced” into not highlighting the importance of this issue as he and Mr. Hurlbert apparently see it, then what does that tell me about the credibility of Mr. Lackey, in general? What would the Dalai Lama think? (maybe that’s not relevant). That’s all I’m really saying, is that after a little research my interest in Mr. Lackey and his opinions is diminished by the “academic” bedfellows he snuggles up to. I do remember him from when I worked at CERL many years ago, but not all that well. But anyway, salmon recovery (or non-recovery) is a great topic so thanks again for introducing it.

        • Guy, I don’t understand your claim here…
          1. I don’t think I’d believe the groups you mentioned without doing my own checking..but I don’t think that’s the point. Lackey is claiming that population growth will have impacts on salmon.. do you disagree with that claim?

          2. This isn’t the first time you (and possibly others on this blog) have mentioned a person’s “thought associates” as being relevant to whether their claim is valid. But that reminds me of climate change and the tribalism therein (e.g., “Pielke is a fellow of the Breakthrough Institute therefore we shouldn’t consider his claims” ).. I’d prefer not to go there.

          3. I would disagree (agreeing with you) on “coerced.” Have you read this Dan Sarewitz piece from 2010 in Slate? It seems like Sarewitz would argue that scientists don’t need to be coerced into asking certain questions and not others.

          Below is an excerpt:

          It is no secret that the ranks of scientists and engineers in the United States include dismal numbers of Hispanics and African-Americans, but few have remarked about another significantly underrepresented group: Republicans.

          No, this is not the punch line of a joke. A Pew Research Center Poll from July 2009 showed that only around 6 percent of U.S. scientists are Republicans; 55 percent are Democrats, 32 percent are independent, and the rest “don’t know” their affiliation.

          • Sharon, I think I’m wasting my time trying to explain this to you, but I’ll try once more:
            1) I don’t disagree that human population growth affects salmon. Who disagrees with that? I certainly never did, so I’m unsure why you’re asking. That point is hardly newsworthy.
            2) I do disagree with Lackey’s repeated apparent endorsement of Stuart Hurlbert’s “policy” approach to reducing human population in the U.S., which entails a virulent anti-immigrant stance. Why do I think this? Because I took the time to read Hurlbert’s papers, listen to his speeches, and research the San Diego Minutemen, a militia hate group with whom he readily acknowledges (and celebrates) his association. But, at least they share the goal of reducing immigration, by one means or another, making them “thought associates” as they walk the streets together.
            3) Here’s a bonus, story about SD Minutemen harassing Catholic worshippers at their church:
            4) Another one (there’s lots out there), SD Minutemen harass Latino trick-or-treating kids. All in good fun probably.
            5) Uh-oh, more legal troubles for the “thought associates”.:
            6) To recap and summarize: Stuart Hurlbert publishes high-minded policy articles about the urgent need to drastically reduce the “continued high immigration rates and large family sizes of predominantly poor and uneducated people from Mexico and Central America” (S. H. Hurlbert, Immigration Control and Biodiversity in North America), then cheerleads the activities of his vigilante “thought associates” in putting that policy into action (well, it worked in Krystallnacht). Bob Lackey is one step removed, merely approving Hurlbert’s policy approach, citing it repeatedly, and chiding the rest of us for being too cowardly to support it.
            7) So, bottom line, I have little use for these guys, perhaps you feel differently but so be it. It’s too bad because it seems Lackey knows quite a bit about fish, but then so do lots of other people including several on this forum (not me), and I’ll gladly listen to them. -Guy

            • So you would be OK if he hadn’t cited Hurlbert. Good to know. But I don’t think his citing them contaminates Bob’s other information or makes it any less valid.

  4. I found resonance with this statement “managers, and analysts are systemically encouraged to avoid explicitly conveying unpleasant facts or trade-offs to the public, senior bureaucrats, or elected officials.”

    I think the same is true of the Forest Service approach to commercial logging for fuel reduction. NEPA documents rarely acknowledge trade-offs. They assume that the effects of logging are universally beneficial with respect to fuel hazard, wildlife habitat, water quality, etc. It’s obviously a gross over-simplification.

    • Actually, I think they do address issues with wildlife habitat water quality etc. What NEPA documents are you reading? You can disagree with what they say about it, but in my experience they do address it. And I have read a great many NEPA documents..
      You said “commercial logging for fuel reduction”.. you mean you think the FS does address those issues in NEPA documents for non-commercial logging? Not clear.

  5. One of my professional obsessions has been assessing what kinds of restoration “work” and figuring out what works for salmon is tricky .

    Out of all the things that have most impacted salmon across their range in the US, population increase is surely at the bottom of the list, unless we want to focus on hydopower and dams which were a problem long before population went up.

    Not to ignore the impacts of development but the kind of land use we saw under much lower populations in the NW had a huge impact on salmon. Amongst them all, rapacious logging was sometimes a key one, but hardly the worst. It is hard to separate out which were the worst offenders impacting salmon since they were being hit in so many ways.

    Ocean conditions appear to have an overwhelming influence which obscures the impacts of current land improvements. And there has been a great improvement in federal lands management of riparian areas, as well as hundreds of miles of riparian buffers on private lands across eastern Oregon.

    I worked under Jim Sedell, the lead author of the aquatic conservation strategy in the NW Forest Plan, so I have given this a lot of thought. I first got involved with watershed restoration activities in 1978 and went on to a do a MS and Phd on the topic.

    I am not optimistic, but among other scientists, decided to keep our yaps shut mostly about some of it since it was not a lot of money where we worked and good intentions by agency people and members of the public need to be fostered and cherished. We decided not to write about some of the failures although I was known to crow loudly in public meetings about them. I suggested a web site where people could post anonymously under “people who love fish too much.” so we could discuss these things frankly.

    That said, I did publish four articles on projects which got a lot of attention.
    In the last one we had to eat our hats since one failure we had written about turned out much better in the end. We had to make an apology for that. It was a certain pleasure to do that. Credit was due.

    • FWIW, Lackey’s 1999 paper, “Salmon Policy: Science, Society, Restoration, and Reality,” is available here. Still very interesting and relevant. Sorry of someone has already posted this.

      Population mentioned here, in discussion of the impact of harvesting:

      “Conditions for salmon in the Pacific Northwest began changing markedly starting in the mid to late 1800s (Netboy, 1980; Mundy, 1996; Robbins, 1996). Starting in the middle 1800s, the human population of the Pacific Northwest ceased declining, and began growing slowly because of immigration from eastern North America. This growth coincided with the advent of more efficient fishing methods and the ability to efficiently preserve and distribute the catch in cans. Also, the timing and approximate size of the annual salmon was predictable, thus fishermen, canners, and distributors could plan accordingly. The effect on many salmon stocks was massive and rapid, but reconstructing run sizes is complicated by the observation that relatively low rates of salmon harvest will result in higher net reproduction, thus larger subsequent runs (Chapman, 1986). Regardless, by 1900 many stocks were reduced below levels required to ensure reproductive success, let alone support fishing; some probably were extirpated. Competition for salmon harvest has been severe throughout the 20th century; recreational, commercial, and Indian fishermen demanded a portion of a dwindling catch and successfully pressured fisheries managers to maintain relatively high catch levels. State fish and wildlife agencies, supported largely by the sale of fishing and hunting licences, have an understandable interest in maintaining fishing opportunities (Volkman and McConnaha, 1993). The general pattern of rapidly increasing harvest and eventual over exploitation of Pacific Northwest salmon, far from being an aberration, is typical in renewable natural resource management (Hilborn et al., 1995).”

  6. Original question: “(W)ouldn’t we want to know 1) how effective each intervention would be and 2) and who specifically would win and lose under each scenario, so that appropriate policy remedies for their pain might be considered?”

    I can’t argue against better-informed decision-making, but that doesn’t lead me to think that reduction of salmon mortality on public lands is a bad decision.

    I don’t give much weight to arguments that go like this: “I’m not going to give up anything because somebody else is a bigger problem and they’re not giving up enough.” “China is the biggest contributor to global warming, so why should we change our lifestyle?” “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” When you are trying to solve an important and complicated problem like global climate disruption, violent crime or extinction of important species, you have to try to make progress on all of the known causes – regardless of what others are doing (unless you are ready to accept and admit failure, which this author may be encouraging, but this is not the current U. S. policy under ESA).

    I worked on the planning and ESA end of salmon recovery for quite a few years, and I heard the public lands agencies grumbling about doing more than their share. There was/is in fact an open discussion of all of the factors affecting salmon, and an “all-H” strategy (harvest, hatcheries, hydro and habitat; I suppose now you could add heating of the oceans). Each one of those has an institutional framework for policy change. I don’t think the government can be faulted for making more progress in the one where it has the most influence or least political opposition.

    The author’s criticism of ESA is essentially that is not strong enough in support of recovery. I agree that ESA has strong provisions for keeping things from getting worse (preventing jeopardy, which the author concedes has been important), but much weaker ones for promoting recovery. The author provides an example of where the former could trump the latter: “It is highly doubtful whether ESA has the flexibility to permit writing off certain rivers and streams (for wild salmon) and moving the recovery dollars to places where achieving success would be much easier.” I think it does have this flexibility, and I was seeing some encouraging recognition from NMFS during recovery planning that some subpopulations are more important than others, which could allow the kind of prioritization needed.

    I don’t disagree with his main premise, however, that we seem not ready to make the lifestyle changes or take on the more difficult political tasks needed to achieve recovery of salmon.

    • Jon, I don’t disagree that we should try good things everywhere. I guess I would like to know where our efforts (like Fedbucks for example) might actually do the most good. And if the best efforts require sacrifices by some entities (ranchers, commercial fisherman) that we acknowledge that.

      My concern is that if efforts aren’t targeted as well as we can, we will a) waste money and time and talent 2) cause people unnecessary harm, and 3) not actually restore salmon.

  7. Guy Knudsen’s comments reflect why papers like those of Drs. Lackey and Hurlbert are needed reality checks in today’s politically correct world. Population growth is causing suburban sprawl in the USA, much of it being the result of liberal immigration policies, despite what the Southern Poverty Law Center says (an NGO that I formerly supported). At least in Washington state where I live, there’s an attempt to control such impacts via the Growth and Shoreline Management acts, but a visit to the Lower Mainland of BC shows what can happen without such legislation in place. Indeed, Surrey, BC has become unrecognizable in the last decade or so, as Agricultural Land Reserves can easily be switched to grow houses with the right political connections or enough money. And, I don’t agree with Knudsen’s accusation that we think that immigrants coming in are worse people than those already here; everyone is a worthy human being, but that doesn’t mean that we need more people here, be they Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans, etc. Rather, it’s a quantity issue. Unless we can get past such liberal use of the “race” card by people like Knudsen, we won’t recover wild salmon. Unfortunately, neither of the main political parties in the USA are holistically environmental for wild salmon to benefit.

    • Bob, in response to a different Lackey article, you yourself previously wrote “The more that Dr. Robert Lackey expounds his opposition to normative science like ecosystem health, the more that I get turned off to his quasi-religious ideals (i.e., thou shalt not this and that)… After wading through the extensive cheerleading by many respondents for Bob Lackey’s article, it was good to see a few healthy skeptics point out that good natural-resource decision-making requires transparency from all participants.” I actually agree very much with your previous support for skepticism and transparency, although now apparently you feel that Lackey and Hurlbert provide a “needed reality check.” For me, skepticism partly involves looking into the background a little bit. I think your use of “politically correct” is a strawman argument (Lackey leans on it heavily also; do you guys actually think that we in academia are somehow cowering under the glare of the liberal thought police or something?); however I do believe that racism actually is a real thing in the U.S., sometimes subtly interwined with policy discussions; perhaps you disagree as suggested by your use of the “race card” cliché. That’s fine, I was merely pointing out one reason why the Lackey/Hurlbert perspective doesn’t have a lot of resonance for me. Or ‘people like me’, perhaps I should say.

  8. I did some unhappy heavy reading and analysis on the John Day removal process, focusing on the subsitution costs of blowing the lower Snake dams and recovering fish.
    Now, a few years prior, I’d roadtripped through the Dalles and had a nice visit with an Indian fisherman selling fresh fish off his truck for five bucks a pound.
    But after going through the data and the marginal increase in fish, turns out each new pound of salmon generated by dam blowing would cost $267 a pound, mostly in substitute power generation. That doesn’t wash in my view. We need to be fiscally rational about salmon.
    And don’t get me started on hatchery fish being somehow deficient.

    • The cost-benefit result described here would appear fiscally irrational to those who believe that the only benefit of dam blowing is salmon, and the only value of a salmon is what you have to pay to eat one. (I’ve seen estimates of sport-fishing values or benefits that are not that different from the cost shown here, and then you can debate the non-monetary values.)

  9. As Bob Lackey’s new article emphasizes, cumulative factors impact Pacific salmon, i.e., death by a thousand cuts, which is why the 4-H (habitat, harvest, hatchery, and hydropower) concept for impacts is now well-recognized as being the multifaceted problem. So all of us are at fault, especially if there are more of us (regardless of what parts of the world we emigrated from). Although racism is rampant in the USA (my original reason for supporting SPLC), SPLC is definitely wrong about suburban sprawl not resulting from immigration policies, which is the main reason for American-population growth. And further logic comes from my promoting normative, ecosystem-based science; such is needed if we want to recover Pacific salmon. Just because I disagree with Dr. Lackey about its usage, that certainly doesn’t invalidate all of his arguments. He’s correct that we need to be honest about using normative science in natural-resources management. And he’s right that we also need honesty about why we’re not recovering Pacific salmon very well. The ultimate problem is global human-population growth, with evidence that we’ve exceeded carrying capacity being climate change, ocean acidification, and major biotic extinctions. Better family planning, which many religions oppose, is actually good for the world. Either we get adaptive or we lose the world.

  10. I do not want to get into a discussion of immigration policy but despite the sprawl with population increase in parts of salmon country, I offer that this has had very little impact on salmon populations across most of their range Most of that sprawl has been in already developed and impacted areas such as the puget sound, central oregon, Eugene, Boise and Portland etc,

    Over fishing surely played a strong role in the decline, perhaps the most important, but there were a number of other impacts as well,”

    For example, salmon dropped sharply in the Rogue, John Day and Grande Ronde watersheds which are mostly remote and rural, Can anybody point out the sprawl in the John Day drainage which has a lot more cattle than people.? And ditto the grande ronde. The sprawl in the rogue was principally in the large valleys which already had seen major impacts on stream channels during the farming and ranching era,

    And places with remaining strong runs of native fish in eastern Oregon most often had high quality, intact stream habitat, mostly on federal lands. A key part of that was the persistence of large pools, often associated with large woody debris. Cold water refugia is another critical component, with some streams like the north fork john day being a lot colder naturally than the main stem which probably never supported many fish in the past.

    Much of the restoration efforts have been on restoring quality instream habitat, for better or worse, Once you have lost it, it is hard to get back, much less quantify the impact on fisheries,

    • But if the argument is that “damage was already done when Seattle and Portland were developed” haven’t cattle also been grazing there (more destructively without current practices) since the same time period?

      I also took a look at the Sierra Club’s fascinating history with population and found this..

      New research confirms that though population growth is rarely its sole cause, it often contributes in a major way to sprawl. This research, conducted by Professor Rolf Pendall of Cornell University also confirms that the importance of population growth as a driver of sprawl varies across the United States: In the West and South it is significant, often a major factor; in the East and Mid-west it is a minor and sometimes inconsequential factor.

  11. And most major religions in the world emphatically do not oppose birth control with Catholics the exception although in the US, birth control use by Catholic women is as high as others. Some fundamentalist Christian groups do push for larger families but they are a minority. And in Catholic latin America, many women also do not listen to the church.

    ( I was raised Catholic, my mother had 7….but that was a different time.)

    Indonesia is the largest Muslim country where the religious leadership has strongly supported birth control and ditto Iran now and even Bangladesh. Pakistan not looking too good ( ouch) and African counties, Muslim or otherwise still have high fertility levels, But Hindu India has also seen a sharp drop in fertility, Population is still going up with decrease in childhood deaths, large number of fertile younger people and longer life spans but birth rates are way down in most countries including Mexico.

    And BTW, some may not have noticed but illegal migration from Mexico is way down as economy improves there and the population bulge of younger people ages. Check out NYT series on that, .

    Here in mostly Buddhist VIetnam, the fertility level is lower than that in the US, with Thailand about the same level.

    But of course, many want to come to the US but they settle mostly in urban areas.

    • Thanks Greg.. for the update on “what religions think” and “how people actually behave.”

      I just think infusions of people to areas, whether retired Californians moving to, say, Idaho, or Vietnamese moving to Washington State, have impacts and we can’t say we’re going to carefully examine possible impacts of climate change and ignore possible impacts of people increasing. Nor can we tell all the new folks moving to an area to live in high-rises.

      Just let me tell one story. When I was working at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (in the wonderful Old Executive Office Building), universities came in to lobby for more visas. Their arguments were that if our country wants to be #1 we need more visas. I’m not a competitive person, so this was an not a compelling argument to me. Plus we are so internationalized in terms of who is paying US workers, does it matter that we discovered and patented something if multinationals buy the patent? Anyway, these university folks said, the US needs “the best” and “the best” are not in our country. If I dug deeper they said that US students aren’t hardworking and their education is not as good, so we can’t be number one with our own students. I get the part about increasing the selection pool and having diversity because they learned different things and learned them differently in these other countries.. but I bit my tongue because I really wanted to ask “if you are US universities, and our students’ education is not good, is the answer importing better people from elsewhere?” “What are you doing to raise our students’ level?” and “have you given up because our students “aren’t hard workers”?”

      Anyway, I just think that all these things are more complicated than the rhetoric would have you believe. And definitely worth discussing where people can be civil.

  12. Good further discussion, but a comment on Greg Nage’s wondering why lesser-developed rivers like the Rogue and interior-Columbia tributaries have reduced salmon runs. Well, that has a lot to do with hydropower dams, albeit the Rogue is getting dam-breaching that will help. We’ve now got dam removal happening throughout the Pacific Northwest, as our energy system becomes more efficient, but continued human-population growth will require more energy production, be it hydropower dams, power plants, and preferably alternative-energy sources. Will the low-production dams in the lower Snake River ever be breached? Quite the political hot potato.

    • definitely a hot potato here in the potato state, since our only “seaport” (Port of Lewiston) would shut down if those dams/locks are breached, not that the barges are competing all that well against rail shipping anyway, these days. But like Bob says, those dams are low production (an estimate I read in the Seattle Times is 4.3% of regional energy), although they also supply water to a few big center-pivot irrigators in WA (along with some bonus ag chemical runoff from upstream fields in south Idaho 🙂 ).

  13. What a complex proplem with hardly any solution in sight. Is there any real way for us as humans to increase the run of natural salmon? If we tore all the dams out, never allow another tree to be removed from our public lands, and stopped all fishing, would the Salmon runs increase? Would it be worth it if it did? What then?
    I live along a salmon/steehead stream (no dams)and its seems like there are less salmon now then there were in the 70’s.
    This after all this money and habitat restoration work has been going on for 30 years?
    (we have money for watershed concils,instream restoration work, but not for schools).
    I remember being down at the mouth of the Kalmath River a few years ago. First there were all these seals hanging out in the surf. Then on the sand spit there was a row of sport fishermen. Behind the spit in the esturary were the Indians with their nets.
    (And the farmers up river had their water turned off. I was told I couldn’t buy those down trees because they were in a possible riparian area.)
    Can we really “save them”, or are they going to go the way of the spotted owl?

  14. We probably all should thank Guy Knudsen for providing yet one more piece of evidence of how quickly the race-card will be played against any person or organization that speaks out in favor of U.S. population stabilization and reduced immigration rates. One of Bob Lackey’s theses (and that of half a dozen other contributors to Salmon: 2100) is confirmed once again. Having a thick skin long used to such attempts at character assassination, I’m happy to have served this purpose. Tells us things about Mr. Knudsen we can’t see from his website at the University of Idaho, and transparency is good.

    At least Knudsen credits me with being a “subtle” racist, so no one should think I actually beat up or kill persons belonging to racial minorities.

    Knudsen seems to put a lot of stock in the accuracy and integrity of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), two of the biggest race-card playing organizations in the U.S. , and other open borders organizations. All these have long favored mass amnesties and large increases in legal immigration, and one of their principal m.o.’s is to attack U.S. population stabilization organizations via smear tactics, innuendo and guilt by association, an m.o. that Knudsen is now copying. Like ADL and SPLC, Knudsen apparently has no specific U.S. population policies to propose, nor any specific objections to ones that I have suggested. All of my views are collectively dismissed with one word – “wrongheaded.” Indeed there is no evidence on the internet that Knudsen has any interest in or knowledge of U.S. demographics, past or future, and population policy or any knowledge of the pervasiveness of censorship of discussion of U.S. population and immigration policies by the scientific, media, and environmental establishments.

    In the population stabilization community it’s a standing joke that if you haven’t yet been attacked by ADL and/or SPLC, you aren’t worth a plugged nickel and haven’t earned your stripes. A good expose of SPLC was provided by Harpers Magazine a few years ago: “The church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance. “ (See: )

    Knudsen is at his lowest when he hides behind the skirts of SPLC and ADL to venomously call me, Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), and the San Diego Minutemen (SDMM) “anti-immigrant” and “immigrant-hating.” Ok, Knudsen’s just another babe in the woods who hasn’t done his homework and has been gulled by the falsehoods and innuendo of his chosen information sources. But he’s a few years out of college and needs to take responsibility for his words. Neither CAPS or SDMM is or ever was “anti-immigrant” or “immigrant-hating.”

    The ethically-challenged and lazy will undoubtedly also claim that our new organization, Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization (SEPS), is “anti-immigrant” and “immigrant-hating”, as our principles are very similar to those of CAPS. SEPS was founded in large part to fight the very sort of prejudices, race-card playing, and censoriousness that Knudsen’s words exemplify. These have caused timid academics to betray generations of students, so that even those graduating with a Ph.D. in the environmental sciences know no more about U.S. demography and population policy than they did when they graduated from high school. What they do learn early on, of course, is that if they take a clear, principled, public stand on U.S. population stabilization, their social life and possibly jobs can be put at risk by people like Knudsen.

    SEPS membership is open to all but precisely because there are so many people out there like Knudsen, we strongly advise young and even mid-career people NOT to join SEPS — because as a condition of joining, members must agree to eventually be publicly listed as such on our website.

    Scientists and environmentalists who would prefer President Obama’s ideas for U.S. population policy over those of SEPS are guaranteeing that their children and grandchildren will reap the whirlwind. While Obama refuses to discuss population policy per se (just like Congress), his actions speak with crystalline clarity: see the 40-page report titled “President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement” (See: )

    My read of Lackey’s piece suggest to me that he was not citing my papers as a “source for his population policy arguments” (policy he hardly touches on) as Knudsen claims, but rather only as some of the few scientist-authored papers out there calling a attention to the very real censorship that has long gone on. Another such paper that should be of interest is American Association for the Advancement of Silence (on National Population Polices) Muffles ‘Obnoxious’ Canadians Too by Schindler et al. (See: ) Since I first discovered Lackey’s writings several years ago, I likewise have had occasion to cite him as one of the few other scientists willing to address the population issue candidly in connection with salmon and other environmental problems.

    But as they say, no good deed ever goes unpunished, and so Lackey now stands accused of being a “bedfellow” of racists. From his writings and from the one time I met him personally, I’d judge there’s no threat to his spine.

  15. Lackey had a lot of other important points to make on salmon restoration policy besides his short rap on population, I would much prefer we talk about them, if only that they are of greater interest to me as a scientist who was involved with those efforts.

    I appreciate Guy;s comments but this blog will not resolve any questions about immigration policy and it now detracts from a focus on Lackeys other points which are far more useful to ponder.

    so lets drop it. Please.

    Regardless of what Mr. Hulbert intended in his own writings on population, the sorry fact is that too many of the people strongly opposed to immigration are indeed driven by racism. However that is not typical of many others who are also concerned with keeping US population down.

    • Greg, I gather you are a salmon technocrat of one sort or another and appreciate your interest in focusing on technical issues. But as Lackey points out (p.4) “the reality is that the future of wild salmon will be determined by factors outside the scope of science.” Population growth is the primary one of those, US population growth is driven primarily by immigration, and immigration legislation is on the table now that would double the rate of US population growth. So while, for a variety of reasons discussion of population growth and immigration give most of us dyspepsia, in the medium and long term these really are “the ballgame” for salmon. During my term as a member of the Columbia River ISAB, I was fully immersed in these issues as a contributor to the 2007 ISAB white paper titled “Human population impacts on Columbia River basin fish and wildlife”. My dismay at the weak and misleading nature in the final draft of the section dealing with US demographics caused me to remove my name from the list of authors before it was published, as recounted in the 2011 paper of mine cited by Lackey.

      Lackey’s comments on population amount to far more than a “short rap” and I would suggest none “are more useful to ponder.” Certainly there is on the table no major technical proposal for hatcheries or hydropower or whatever that could be as consequential for salmon as would be a doubling of the rate of US population growth. We must address that issue not as technocrats but as citizens, for thanks to the irresponsible mainline media most citizens haven’t the foggiest notion of what is going on.

      And nothing could be more irrelevant than the fact that hiding under rocks and fidgeting with their private little websites, some racists oppose immigration. They are mindless microbes without influence. Over the last 20 years I’ve come to know the leaders of the major population stabilization organizations (FAIR, NumbersUSA, CAPS, NPG, WPB, PMC, etc., etc.). There isn’t a racist among them or in our new organization SEPS — but you will have no trouble finding open borders websites (like those of ADL and SPLC) calling all of them “racist”, “hate-mongering,” “xenophobic,” “nativist,” etc.

      So racism should be a non-issue here. Even if Hitler liked apple pie, I doubt that any of us are going to stop eating it.

  16. “needs to take responsibility for his words”… but I do, Stuart, that’s why my name is on them. I hope that’s not confusing. But thanks for stopping in and posting your interesting links.
    p.s., my website shown here isn’t Univ of Idaho, it’s a site for my private law practice in environmental and human rights law.

  17. I take exception to the graph on population increase. Illegal immigration is way down with I believe a net decrease from Mexico, once the largest source of illegal migrants since many are returning home and many fewer are trying to cross with the passing of the population bulge of young people,

    Mexican birth rate are way down, just like most of Latin America.

    Most people trying now are very poor people from central america or deported people trying to make it back. From the NYT articles, it appears that Border Patrol apprehensions are down by about 80% in Arizona compared to five years ago.

    But, I asked that we drop this thread, and here I am again………

    A few years ago I worked with a group doing emergency water drops for migrants in the arizona desert, since although I do not want to see population increase, I did not want to see the 250 corpses a year in arizona as desperately poor people died trying to cross.

    There sure was a lot of brutal racism about immigration in Arizona, with their governor taking the lead on that.

    They used to consider my irish catholic people dirty trash too.

    • Legal immigration has always been the major factor (aside from the 1986 amnesty, it is not down, both the far right and far left want more, and the U.S. Senate has already complied (S.744).

      The “water drops” provided by the “Border Angels” have been provided erratically and over a small section of the border with Mexico but have gotten wide publicity in both the U.S. and Mexico. It seems likely they have actually increased the number of Mexicans dying in the desert. The head of the “Border Angels” is the most, aggressive, race-card playing agent of the Mexican government in my hometown of San Diego. You should hear his language when he know’s the TV cameras are not on him; I’ve been there. The Mexican government has given him awards for these activities.

      Arizona Governor Brewer certainly took a hard, appropriate and pro-America line against illegal immigration and I’ve heard lots of her speeches. But I recall nothing she ever said or did that was racist. Data? (I’m sure SPLC or ADL can supply even if bogus!)


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